Serious practitioners of metaphysics largely fall into one of two camps: students of traditional systems and people who reject their own societies.
The weaknesses and advantages of both approaches are pretty easily seen by an unbiased outside observer.
Traditional practitioners tend to have a difficult time adapting to changes in meditative technology, cling to practices that lack a practical application in the modern word (spear defense practice in 2016?), and avoid making changes to their system that would improve its efficiency.
The people who reject their own society and take up these practices are equally stupid. A severe lack of discipline, delusional behavior, drug use, destructive lifestyle choices and a lack of systematic training are their main issues.
Both sides miss the point of serious metaphysical practice. It simply presents a practitioner with a technology that can be used to solve problems. If approached as theurgy, the problem is “how do I attain enlightenment”? If the problem approached is more mundane, as in how to maximize a crop yield over a small area, then the problem is thaumaturgy.
In either event, the practitioner is using metaphysical practice as a tool to address a problem.
Both the traditional and “alternative everything” camps lose sight of this important fact.
Metaphysical practice is only useful, and incidentally life affirming, if it is the best technology available for a given issue. Clinging to an inefficient approach to an issue, be it engaging in endless mental wandering as a form of escapism or trying to make wind power work as a reliable power source, is simply a waste of both time and potential.
I’ve had a variety of friends in this community who lived through a lifetime of suffering thru their rejection of modern medical practice and an inability to come to terms with the fact that their approach to practice stranded them in poverty.
When used as technology to treat a currently incurable disease, provide insight into the invention process, enhance mental and/or physical performance in the absence of a working conventional technique, or simply provide a mechanism to do something that conventional technology does not, metaphysics serve the individual.
When used as a form of escapism, to divide yourself from society (i.e. the cult of one, as I refer to it), or to simply avoid acting responsibly it harms the individual. I’ve rarely seen the path of the hermit work out for anyone and usually it simply serves to isolate and enhance self imposed delusion. That is not to say that extended periods of solo practice are a bad idea. They are in fact invaluable for self-development purposes.
But, I’ve noticed how well developed monastic organizations keep a pretty tight schedule for even their most enlightened members, generally in the form of service to lay people.
So if the spirits are telling you it is time to disappear into the mountains never to be seen again, it is time to tell them to “fuck off.” I suspect most of those old Taoist practitioners mentioned in the classics who “travelled into the West” simply died alone in the middle of nowhere.
Dying alone and in pain doesn’t seem to be the epitome of enlightened practice to me. Dying in a mansion, surrounded by your loving children and grandchildren, having created a dozen patents responsible for saving/improving the lives of thousands, and oh yeah achieved enlightenment somewhere along the way, does.